The Kenai Central hockey team honored eight seniors on senior night at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility on Friday.
Tri-Valley dressed just nine skaters.
That told the story of a 6-2 victory by the Kardinals on Friday, and also an 8-1 victory Saturday.
“That’s status quo for us,” Tri-Valley coach Dakota MacIver said of the short bench. “We show up and work hard.”
That approach has worked for the Viking Warriors, as they were clinging to the third and final state slot out of the Aurora Conference with some games yet to be played Saturday.
The Kardinals also showed why they have wrapped up the third slot in the Railbelt Conference and a trip to the Division II state tournament, Thursday through Saturday at the Patty Center in Fairbanks.
Friday, even as Kenai rolled up a 59-11 advantage in shots but saw Tri-Valley close the gap to 3-2 early in the third period, the Kards stuck with their game and pulled away.
“We stuck with it and didn’t get frustrated,” Kenai coach Scott Shelden said. “It was a fun night.”
Trent Duncan, Travis Verkuilen, Jordyn Stock, Miles Marston, Jordan Knudsen, Zach Burnett and Logan Dosko were honored as part of senior night.
“Their goaltender kept them in it,” Shelden said of Tri-Valley’s Danny Renshaw, who had 53 saves. “They had a lot of fight and were a focused group.”
After Hayden Lusby put Tri-Valley up with a power-play goal with 9 minutes, 5 seconds, left in the first period, Knudsen tied it with an unassisted goal at the 5:53 mark.
Dosko, assisted by Nick Wehrstein, then gave Kenai a 2-1 lead with the game’s lone goal of the second period.
With 12:33 left in the third period, Kenai went up 3-1 when Verkuilen scored unassisted.
It would have been the perfect time for the Viking Warriors to fold, but about a minute later, Lusby, assisted by Mathius Speer and Oliver Cole, cut the gap to 3-2.
“They never quit,” MacIver said of his team.
With 11:09, Tri-Valley was whistled for a penalty, costly so late in a game when so many Tri-Valley players had logged so many minutes.
Caden Warren took advantage with an unassisted, power-play goal to put Kenai up 4-2 with 10:56 to play.
Jacob Begich, assisted by Knudsen, scored less than a minute later, then Marston, assisted by Burnett and Begich, added the final tally.
Duncan got the victory in his first varsity start, making nine saves.
Saturday, Kenai had seven different players score in the victory — Landen Cialek, Blane Bucho, Knudsen twice, Verkuilen, Beiser, Reagan Graves and Wehrstein.
Lusby scored again for Tri-Valley.
Renshaw again stopped 53, while Tommy Baker had two saves for Kenai and Jackson Cross made 10.
Soldotna sweeps Juneau
The Soldotna hockey team wrapped up to the top spot out of the Railbelt Conference at next week’s state tournament by sweeping host Juneau-Douglas on Friday and Saturday. It was the second straight conference title for the Stars.
Friday, the Stars topped the Crimson Bears 6-1.
SoHi went up 3-0 after the first period when Spencer Kapp, assisted by Alex Montague; Gavin Haakenson, assisted by Wyatt Medcoff and Journey Miller; and Trent Powell, assisted by Haakenson, scored.
In the second, Powell, assisted by Haakenson, and Aley, assisted by Galen Brantley III and Alex Montague, made it 5-0.
SoHi went up 6-0 in the third when Powell, assisted by Haakenson, scored. Sam Bovitz would score late for Juneau.
Dawson Hickok had 38 saves for Juneau, while Josh Tree stopped 20 for the Stars.
Saturday, the Stars rolled to a 7-0 victory. Galen Brantley III, Silas Larsen, Journey Miller and Gavin Haakenson scored in the first period for a 4-0 lead.
SoHi went up 7-0 after the second on goals by Brier Books, Larsen and Powell.
Corbin Wirz had the shutout on 18 saves, and also had an assist on Larsen’s goal in the second period. The Stars put 47 shots on Juneau.
Kardinals 6, Viking Warriors 2
Tri-Valley 1 0 1 —2
Kenai 1 1 4 —6
First period — 1. Tri-Valley, Lusby (Stickle), 5:55; 2. Kenai, Knudsen (un.), 9:07. Penalties — Kenai 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai, Dosko (Wehrstein), 7:32. Penalties — Tri-Valley 1 for 2:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai, Verkuilen (un.), 2:27; 5. Tri-Valley, Lusby (Speer, Cole), 3:40; 6. Kenai, Warren (un.), 4:04; 7. Kenai, Begich (Knudsen), 5:00; 8. Kenai, Marston (Burnett, Begich), 9:40.
Shots on goal — Tri-Valley 5-2-4—11; Kenai Central 20-16-23—59.
Goalies — Tri-Valley, Renshaw (59 shots, 53 saves); Kenai, Duncan (11 shots, 9 saves).
Stars 6, Crimson Bears 1
Soldotna 3 2 1 —6
Juneau 0 0 1 —1
First period — 1. Soldotna, Kapp (A. Montague), 3:48; 2. Soldotna, Haakenson (Medcoff, J. Miller), 11:19; 3. Soldotna, Powell (Haakenson), 14:25. Penalties — Soldotna 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Soldotna, Medcoff (Haakenson), 1:27; 5. Soldotna, Aley (Brantley III, A. Montague), 1:58. Penalties — Soldotna 3 for 6:00; Juneau 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 6. Soldotna, Powell (Haakenson), 7:01; 7. Juneau, Bovitz (Welch, Murdoch), 8:42. Penalties — Soldotna 3 for 6:00; Juneau 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Soldotna 15-19-10—44; Juneau 6-5-10—21.
Goalies — Soldotna, Tree (21 shots, 20 saves); Juneau, Hickok (44 shots, 38 saves).
Kardinals 8, Viking Warriors 1
Tri-Valley 0 0 1 —1
Kenai 2 2 4 —8
Frist period — 1. Kenai, Cialek (Knudsen), 2:34; 2. Kenai, Bucho (Verkuilen), 3:53. Penalties — none.
Second period — 3. Kenai, Knudsen (Shelden), 0:44; 4. Kenai, Verkuilen (un.), 3:21. Penalties — Tri-Valley 2 for 4:00; Kenai 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 5. Kenai, Knudsen (un.), 0:53; 6. Kenai, Beiser (Burnett, Langham), 5:17; 7. Kenai, Graves (C. Stock), 5:35; 8. Kenai, Wehrstein (Graves), 5:47. Penalties — Tri-Valley 1 for 2:00; Kenai 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal — Tri-Valley 2-2-11—15; Kenai 26-18-17—61.